Automating the sample plating effort for PCR test in laboratory can significantly improve laboratory efficiency and reduce human error. However, sample plating is a crucial step in PCR diagnostics testing. It involves transferring a small sample to a culture medium by robotic sample handling for analysis. Manual sample plating is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process that can lead to inconsistencies and errors.
By automating the sample plating process, the PCR testing labs increase throughput, improve accuracy, and reduce the risk of contamination. Automated sample plates can handle multiple sample types and volumes. Thus, PCR plating automation helps to increase the efficiency, consistency, and accuracy of PCR lab report results. While it also reduces the risk of contamination and improves overall throughput.
For instance, while COVID-19 was at its peak, the growing number of coronavirus outbreaks demanded more testing and RT PCR test lab report daily to contain the viral spread. Keeping the daily capacity and TAT balanced was the one key challenge that affected labs. The reason being every COVID-19 setting including PCR diagnostics got overloaded with work. Therefore, the solution would be PCR workflow automation as far as possible.
What is sample plating in PCR testing?
Sample plating during PCR test in laboratory includes the transfer of a small amount of a biological sample to a culture medium or well PCR plate for analysis. This is an important step in the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing process. It allows the sample to be amplified and also analyzed for the presence of specific genetic material.
In automated PCR testing, robotic sample handling helps to transfer the sample to a culture medium or well PCR plate using a microplate dispensing system. The sample is then typically treated with a series of reagents. This includes enzymes and primers, that allow the genetic material of interest to be amplified and detected.
How does the PCR automation system help?
While manual sample plating can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, particularly when processing large numbers of samples. An automated microplate dispensing system can handle multiple samples quickly and accurately, reducing the need for manual intervention and minimizing the risk of cross-contamination.
Talking of COVID-19, RT PCR test lab report interfacing and submission process to ICMR and state/central govt. has been automated. On the other hand, the process of creating batches for PCR testing is still done manually. Automating this process can be a solution to reduce the effort and errors that mainly occur during this process.
PCR plating automation can be extremely helpful in two ways. It allows to –
- Create a worklist aka batch sheet for sample arrangement with the help of the LIMS system
- Upload sample position to analyzers/machines automatically reducing errors, effort, and time
CrelioHealth PCR Plating Automation allows you to do just that; eliminating the hassle of handwritten batch sheets at RT-PCR testing. In addition, with automated PCR testing, you can print and share the system-generated batch sheet with your technician to cross-verify at further steps.
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Benefits & Advantages of PCR Testing Lab
The process automation for PCR plates allows labs to avail the following advantages –
- Quick batch creation targeting 96 samples at a time – Ensures Maximum Utilisation and Saves Processing TAT
- Generate worklist automatically with patient & sample info – Eliminates manual effort at sample arrangement
- Automate upload of sample position to machine (using machine interfacing) – Reduces manual errors like entering the wrong sample id into the machine
- Extract count of the sample under process vs pending – Effective to manage workload
- Generate batches from mobile using doctors app – Saves logistical TAT
How does a fully automated PCR machine work?
- Select the PCR plate samples you want to create a batch for
- You can assign any position in a grid of 12×8 or the PCR automation system can assign positions to samples for you
- Create a batch if you have all the samples or save a draft to keep on adding samples as they come to ensure maximum utilization of the machine cycle
- Generate a batch sheet to help you position the samples in your PCR testing lab and keep track of them
- Excel export of samples with the position which can be directly uploaded to the machine to save time manually entering sample id one by one
In conclusion, automating the sample plating effort for PCR testing is an effective way to increase efficiency and accuracy in the laboratory. By reducing the time and effort required for sample plating, labs can process more samples. Moreover, automated sample handling in laboratory reduces the risk of error and contamination and improves the overall quality of PCR lab report results. Investing in a fully automated PCR machine can help labs stay competitive and meet the growing demand for high-quality PCR diagnostics.